GovGirl: Using Instagram Stories Effectively in Government

Creating content that only lasts for 24 hours may seem like a waste of time for government, but Instagram Stories is an increasingly popular platform that can add a new channel for reaching constituents.

by / January/February 2019
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Is it a waste of time for government social media managers to create content that only lasts 24 hours? The transience of Instagram Stories can make social media staff question the value of contributing their already-limited time and resources. 

Instagram’s Stories feature isn’t alone — Snapchat pioneered this format, Facebook launched its own version and LinkedIn is even testing a Stories-like product for a student audience. As more social networks release features involving disappearing content, how can using this approach bring value to those who manage public-sector social media?  

Delivering more value

The photos and videos shared as a part of your agency’s story can contribute more value to your online presence. Instagram Stories has a significant user base of 400 million daily active users, and profile managers can see who is viewing their story. Just be sure to document the analytics from your story before it expires so you can demonstrate the success to leadership and stakeholders.

Many agencies are seeing a noticeable amount of engagement from their communities on Instagram. There’s no limit to what you can post on your Instagram Story, plus there are features on the platform to help personalize the experience for your audience. 

When chatting about the time investment during a bi-weekly Twitter discussion for government social media managers, here’s what Lauren Tibs Oxford (@the_real_tibs), the digital communications strategist for Gilbert, Ariz., said: “It’s totally worth it to invest the time in Instagram Stories. More and more people are spending time there, because it’s fun and interactive, and totally unique from other platforms. It’s a great way to show behind-the-scenes, ask questions, use polls and more.”

Reaching more viewers

Using Instagram Stories increases the likelihood that people will see your content. You can also use it to direct people to your most recent post for more information, or use the “swipe up” feature as a call to action that will lead viewers to your website. Covering live events using Instagram Stories is another way to keep your followers informed. For particularly meaningful stories that feature your agency or contain important news, keep in mind that you can always add it to the “highlights” section of your profile. This way your existing followers can view the story over again and it will stay available for any new followers. 

Instagram Stories is a different kind of storytelling technique that allows for more creativity and interaction with your citizens than some other platforms. While it may seem like you need to be a social media expert to master the tool, avid users typically advise that a polished piece isn’t necessarily expected. If anything, spur-of-the-moment content feels more natural. It shouldn’t be a struggle to come up with natural and authentic Stories content. 

Jon Tolbert (@TheJonTolbert), digital strategist for Columbus, Ohio, recently tweeted his advice: “Stories allow more creativity from social media managers and encourage more engagement from your citizens. The time investment is not as considerable as one might expect, and the results speak for themselves for agencies that have made it work!” 

Kristy Dalton Contributing Writer

Kristy Dalton is known as "GovGirl" in the government technology industry. She has been called on as an industry influencer and has a passion for social media, technology and digital strategy. Kristy is the founder & CEO of Government Social Media.